New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
Friday, April 24, 2020
We were joking that it was like the Bum Phillips trade where he traded the rest of his picks so he could go the race track.
"Right (laughter), no, that wasn't the case. Listen, we are really excited. That's three players that we had in our top 40 and, man, I think in a lot of ways it couldn't have worked out any better."
*Can you talk about the process that went into the two trades today, did you just feel like you got such great value for those guys that you had to go and get them? *"I think it was fair value. I feel like our group spent all day on the phone. We were trying forever to make the deal that eventually got us Zack Baun. We tried every team between where we were at pick 88 and pick 33. Every team we talked to, we talked to a bunch of them. There were a few times we felt like they were close to making a deal and then that fell through. Eventually, we get to the pick where we got Zack and then as we're sitting there and we're just seeing this player (Adam Trautman) that's kind of out there by himself on our board so we started calling. We had probably 10 or 12 teams that we'd called and had a couple that were close, but ultimately it was Minnesota and (we were) able to get that done. So we're pretty excited about it."
Did you say you tried to go up as high as pick 33 for Baun?
"Well, we called. Listen, honestly, we didn't have enough resources to get to the top of the second round. But you always call and ask, right? We spoke to every team and there was a number of teams that have multiple picks in the second round. So you talk to those teams, those are kind of the first ones on your list because oftentimes if you have two picks in a round, you're a little more willing to back out on your second choice, pick up more picks. So those were our first targets and a couple of those teams had higher picks as well as a pick later in the round."
Did you guys have a first round grade on him assuming you were trying to go to as high as 33?
"I don't want to talk about the actual grade, but he was in our top 40. Actually both of these guys that we got in this round were."
Maybe this could just be perception, but I feel like this is the first time your team has said you've tried that hard to make a trade and you couldn't get it done for a while. Was there some more reluctance this year for teams to make deals?
"No, it wasn't that. We were just so far back. We were pick 88 to a pick in the 30s and 40s. That is a long way to go and it doesn't happen very often. You can probably count on one hand the number of times that someone has gone that far back and traded up. So there is not a lot of history there and teams don't want to go back that far. There is too much unknown in terms of what players would be available. So you understand the reluctance. They're looking to get knocked over with the offer that you made and we had our limits as to what we would do. Listen, it worked out great for us because he was still available later and it didn't cost us as much as we were willing to go."
That was my next question, Mickey. I would assume that the compensation went down, you were probably willing to spend a lot more draft capital to get him. Would that be correct to assume?
"Yeah, we were willing to spend more. Definitely."
*How long did it take for the (Adam) Trautman trade to materialize? *"Well, that took less time because we really didn't make that decision until late in the third round. It's like, wow, this guy's still there, here's what we have and it finally got to the point where what we had left was reasonable compensation for the picks in the bottom of the third, but it wasn't long. Those picks go off pretty quick when you're talking about five minutes a pick and so you have to act a little quicker than you did earlier in the day."
How valuable will it be tomorrow that pending your team trading back in that your whole staff just has more time to go over the list for priority free agents?
"Well, I am interested to see that because this is going to be different. Typically, we're in all in a room together, in the draft room and it's like the floor of the stock exchange. There's a lot of talks, a lot of conversations going on, a lot of communication in order to keep track of the guys we're going after the offers that are being made, how much we have available to spend. This is going to be different because we're not in the same room and so obviously we'll have all day to kind of plan for that and plan it and then be able to execute it. But it's going to be different. It's going to be different for us as well as every other team. We'll have our targets and as soon as that last pick is made, we're going to hit the ground running."
Was the willingness to target a handful of guys and just specifically go after them, is that related to the strength of your roster? Is that unique to just this year or is that kind of a philosophy?
"Look, I think our philosophy has always been to, hey, if we have a vision and an affinity for someone we'll put a target on them and then we'll go get them. That fits in with the philosophy that we've had. But I do think that some of this is relative to how you view your roster. It's hard to make our team in a lot of areas and we've got a lot of young, talented players on our team that have performed and we have got some guys that are a little more unknown that we like a lot too that you really haven't seen yet. It is difficult to make our roster and so I think for us it is more about quality over quantity. I think that is right."
Can you go into what you personally liked about (Cesar) Ruiz as a player? I don't think we've asked your opinion on that yet.
"Yeah, listen, first of all you love the talent. You love the quality of the player, but he fits in perfectly with the things that we've identified as the Saints player. He's intelligent, he's tough, not just tough, but gritty in terms of how he's conducted himself. He's endearing to his teammates and yet as a lot of leadership qualities. There's nothing that we don't like about the player so we're excited to have him."
I'm guessing you sort of already answered this, but you're happy what you guys were able to do, right? If you don't jump back into the draft tomorrow, you will consider this to be a very successful draft?
"Yeah. Look, I'm extremely excited about (the selections) and sometimes there's a little bit of a downer when you only have three players. You can look at it that way. I don't look at it that way. I feel like we've added three high quality players, high character, intelligent guys who are going to fit with our roster perfectly. And we've had a lot of success in the undrafted free agent arena over the years. And so I'm excited about what we might be able to find there. That's a credit to our scouting department and the guys, Terry Fontenot and Khai (Harley) and Jeff (Ireland) that once we get these guys targeted, go recruit and our coaches do a great job of recruiting. I've got a lot of pride in what we have been able to do post draft over the years and expect that to continue tomorrow."
Does the approach have anything to do with maybe limited information at all on guys and you felt stronger about the guys you knew a lot about?
"Well, no, on the surface that would make some sense. And yet I felt pretty good about, we pair our board down so much. Jeff (Ireland) does a great job of this, of really honing in on the guys that we have a strong affinity for and I felt really good about the information that we had on that group of players. I didn't feel like there was a lot of gaps, there were some gaps definitely because we didn't have the pro day information and there was probably a few guys that we would like to have been able to visit a little longer with, a few medicals that we would like to have rechecks on and yet, I didn't feel like that hampered in any way, shape or form for this draft. I like it better when we have more information certainly, but given the hand we were dealt here, I felt good about the way we organized that."
Did you get asked about receiver position before I got on the call?
"I did not."
I'm just curious if you could kind of give us your perspective on that with it being supposedly a deep draft and receiver and the production team had outside of Michael Thomas last year?
"Yeah. Well look, two things. One, this was a deep draft and is a deep draft relative to the receiver position. There's a lot of guys there that we liked and were in that top 40 that I talked about. It didn't come to pass that one of those guys was available when we were picking or there were other guys that we liked a little better. So this isn't a reflection on them, this is just the way the draft fell to us. The other part of that is, listen, we feel good about our group. We added Emmanuel Sanders. I love the prospects that we have with Tre'Quan Smith, he's done some really good things to date. We've got some young guys that we like a lot. I probably didn't have the same view of the position that maybe some people outside the building have."
Can I ask that same question sort of about the quarterback position? Is that a position that you considered addressing in the draft or you just felt like you could find it somewhere else?
"I think the same sort of thing there is that obviously there's some really good quarterbacks in this draft, but Sean's been really clear and I think we've all been really clear that we love the prospect of Taysom Hill and what he might be able to do for us in the future. Obviously, Drew (Brees) is back so it's a strong room again for us. I didn't feel like this was a must position in this draft and yet if someone would've fell to us in the right spot, we could have easily taken him."